clifford geertz: “deep play: notes on the balinese cockfight” summary and review to start form the bottom line, clifford geertz’s essential notion expressed in. “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” is one of Clifford Geertz’s most influential articles which illustrates not only the meaning of a given. Perhaps one of the most widely read anthropological essays, “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” by Clifford Geertz is available.

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In the case at hand, to treat the cockfight as a text is to bring out a feature of it in my opinion, the central feature of it that treating it as a rite or a pastime, the two most obvious alternatives, would tend to obscure: In any case, the attempt to deprovincialize the concept of art is but part of the general anthropological conspiracy to deprovincialize all important social concepts–marriage, religion. Besides wagering there are other economic aspects of the cockfight, especially its very close connection with the local market system which, though secondary both to its motivation and to its function, are not without importance.

On this, see J. Indeed, one of the great culture heroes of Bali is a prince, called after his passion for the sport, “The Cockfighter,” who happened to be away at a very deep cockfight with a neighboring prince when the whole of his family-father, brothers, wives, sisters-were assassinated by commoner usurpers.

Almost nobody greeted us; but nobody scowled or said anything unpleasant to us either, which would have been almost as satisfactory.

The hero’s cock then flies at the king himself, killing him with a spur stab in the throat. About half-way down another fugitive ducked suddenly into a compound-his own, it turned out-and we, seeing nothing ahead of us but rice fields, open country, and a very high volcano, followed him. This process, which rarely takes less than ten minutes, and often a good deal longer, is conducted in a very subdued, oblique, even dissembling manner Those not immediately involved give it at best cockfgiht disguised, sidelong attention; those who, embarrassedly, are, attempt to pretend somehow that the whole thing is not really happening.

Assuming only binomial variability, the departure from a fifty-fifty expectation in the sixty-ringgits-and-below case is 1. Fighting always takes place between people and cocks from opposing social groups family, clan, village etc. Cockfights tetadjen; sabungan are held in a ring about fifty feet square. Even the Brahmana priest, an old, grave, half-way-to-Heaven type who because of its associations with the underworld would never be involved, even distantly, in a cockfight, and was difficult to approach even to other Balinese, had us called into his courtyard to ask us about what had happened, chuckling happily at the sheer extraordinariness of it all.


There is a fixed and known odds paradigm which runs in a continuous series from ten-to-nine at the short end to two-to-one on the long: Usually they begin toward late afternoon and run three or four hours until sunset. Any expressive form works when it works by disarranging semantic contexts in such a way that properties conventionally ablinese to certain things are unconventionally ascribed to others, which are then seen actually to possess them.

We ran down the main nootes street, northward, geedtz from where we were living, for cockfiyht were on that side of the ring.

HyperGeertz-Text: Deep_Play

When the truck drove up he ran to the river, stripped off his sarong, and plunged in so he could say, when at length they found him sitting there pouring water over his head, that he had been away bathing when the whole affair had occurred and was ignorant of it.

The Balinese cockfight is, as Geertz cockcight it, a way of playing with fire without getting burned.

To ask of any cultural text, be it a cockfight or a folktale, who is talking, who is being talked to, what is being talked about, and what form of action is being called for, is to move cultural analysis to a new baliinese that renders the old antinomies of materialism and idealism irrelevant. Cockfighting is a fight for statues, with bets serving only to symbolize the risk. Only women, children, adolescents, and various other sorts of people who do not or not yet fight cocks–the extremely poor, the socially despised, the personally idiosyncratic–play at these games, at, of course, cockfiight ante levels.

Actually, such “away games,” though infrequent, tend to mend the ruptures between village members that the constantly occurring “home games,” where village factions are opposed rather than united, exacerbate.

Enveloped elsewhere in a haze of etiquette, a thick cloud of euphemism and ceremony, gesture and allusion, they are here expressed in only the thinnest disguise of an animal mask, a mask which in fact demonstrates them far more effectively than it conceals them.

Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight

Yes, he writes about cocks exactly for the reason you think. Saturday, May 7, Clifford Geertz: What is “outside” depends upon the context, of course, but given it, no outside money is mixed in with the main bet; if the principals cannot raise it, it is not made. As he watches fight after fight, with the active watching of an owner and a bettor for cockfighting has no more interest as a pure spectator sport than does croquet or dog racinghe grows familiar with it and what it has to say to him, much as the attentive listener to string quartets or the absorbed cockfigt of still life grows slowly more familiar with them in a way which opens his subjectivity to himself.

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The center bet, again especially in deeper games, is thus the most direct and open expression of social opposition, which is one of the reasons why both it and match making are surrounded by such an air of unease, furtiveness, embarrassment, and so on.

To come round full circle, it may be worth remembering the material and occkfight conditions of fieldwork in the s, 60s and 70s.

Korn, Het Adatrecht van Bali, 2d ed. The umpire holds the stakes until the decision is rendered and then awards them notss the winner, avoiding, among other things, the intense embarrassment both winner and loser would feel if the latter had to pay off personally following his defeat. What is a fair coin in the center is a biased one on the side.

Jones Methews March 13, at 4: One thing that I always wonder about the cockfight essay is what Balinese people always think about it.

When spur affixers and cock handlers are someone other than the owner, they are almost always a quite close relative–a brother or cousin–or a very intimate friend of his. Based on a cockffight pool of observations and interviews, Geertz concludes that the cockfight as a cultural phenomenon offers rich anthropological material for the interpretation of the Balinese society.

A man who has a passion for cocks, an enthusiast in the literal sense of the term, can spend most baliense his life with them, and even those, the overwhelming majority, whose passion though intense has not entirely run away with them, can and do spend what seems not only to an outsider, but also to themselves an inordinate amount of time with them.